YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – For the last year, leaders with the Youngstown Air Reserve Station and the community have been working to come up with ideas to make the base in Vienna more viable.
910TH Airlift Commander James Dignan said a closer relationship between the base and the community needs to be forged to ensure future operations.
“The days of being behind the fence, being behind the wire are behind us. We need to be an active part of the community, and we want the community to be active and a part of the base,” Dignan said.
Representatives from both the base and outside agencies met Thursday and gave updates on the five areas they’ve been developing in recent months. One of them would create educational programs at local universities that Air Force personnel need to advance in rank.
“The opportunity is to take resources of the local institutions and provide easy pathways for the airmen to get those educational resources so they can complete the degrees that they actually need,” Daniel Palmer, Kent State University Trumbull Branch.
Another area will be to partner with local police and fire departments for training in search and rescue, fighting fires at oil and gas facilities and working together to build a new weapons firing range at the base.
“It is not going to be just a firing range for the military that we use on the weekends or we use sporadically, but something that can be used by the entire community. We think it will help make our push a little bit higher,” Dignan said.
George Brown works as a consultant and is helping to come up with a community plan. He said according to surveys his staff has conducted with safety service officials, there is support to use the base for training.
“We’ve proved the need for it. Now, we need the support of the communities to say if you build it we will use it,” Brown said.
Although it has been ten years since the Pentagon formed a Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), supporters locally as well as those on a new statewide commission stress communities need to do all they can to maintain and even grow the military’s presence in Ohio.